Sunday, April 24, 2016
The Living Lutheran. . . born of the dead The Lutheran magazine. . .
Living Lutheran will never be accused of upholding any confessional doctrinal integrity (except perhaps their loyalty to diversity, feminism, and the GLBT agenda). The first issue did not disappoint me. There were articles on water renewing the earth and the church, autism friendly activity bags, a Lutheran/Methodist partnership, eco-evangelism, healthier living, etc... Peter Marty explained that the greatest achievement of Easter was not freedom from death but freedom from our fears. It seems that sin is an also ran among the problems of mankind. I found that the ELCA bishops are discussing the future of their church body by trying to assess where they are now and what God has in store for them. I read of the sacredness of creation (of saving butterflies and Flint, MI). I read of a smiling face on worker priests (now called bi-vocational clergy). But the page I spent the most time on is the list of deaths where I tend to see the names of pastors I have known or those who served parishes with which I have had a passing familiarity. All in all it does not speak well of the living part of the Living Lutheran now does it.
Now this might appear that I am down on denominational magazines. I am not. I have consistently championed The Lutheran Witness in my own parish and on this blog. What commends a good denominational journal is less the flash than the substance. Yes, good graphics and a winsome appearance helps but what people look for and what builds a great journal is the meat and potatoes of what we believe, why we believe it, how we practice this faith, and what challenges lie before us in all of those areas. The journals that are dying generally have forgotten that they are vehicles for the faith and for the church. Instead of advocating what Scripture says, what they confess, what the creeds say, etc... too many journals have taken to questioning the faith, disputing what has been believed, taught, and confessed, and advocating largely for liberal social positions.
The church and Christianity have enough skeptics outside the faith. We do not need to provide internal agencies to raise the same kind of doubts about what the Bible says, what the creeds confess, and what has always been believed, confessed, and taught through the ages. Yes, the church press needs to be objective and its job is not to gloss over wrongs or lie on behalf of the institution but the real crying need is for journals who advocate FOR the faith and not against it. Our people are inundated with material from sources unfriendly to the faith or who offer a novel approach to Christianity inconsistent with creed and confession. Our people listen to pop Christian music, popular radio and TV preachers, and read internet theology from questionable sources. They don't need to find this stuff in a church sponsored monthly magazine. They need a source that draws them back to Scripture and catechism, hymnal and prayerbook. Do that well and you have not only a top notch denominational journal but a real asset for folks in the pew. I am happy that The Lutheran Witness does this well. Living Lutheran, well, the best I can say is that they were not off to a great start.